The Thigh Gap

10 Mar

Trigger warning: I will be somewhat discussing eating disorders.

When I first started my blog on Tumblr in 2010, a lot of posts I saw were “thinspo” or “thinspiration” which included pictures of girls with thigh gaps. It took me back to the days where a friend told me she wanted a thigh gap, and that your thighs shouldn’t touch. At the time, I wasn’t a personal trainer yet, so I didn’t think much of this, and didn’t think it was unhealthy or anything to want a thigh gap. I was remembering all of this because I saw Cassey from Blogilates posted on her Facebook page about searching for #thinspo, #thighgap and #skinny on social media platforms…I’ll get to that further below.

If you’re not sure what a “thigh gap” is, look it up on Google and a ton of pictures will show up.

thigh gap myth

The Problem

As with any desire to change a certain body part, it becomes a problem when it is something one obsesses over. From what I’ve seen through social media platforms like Tumblr, it seems that younger girls are really striving for this. Looking through the hashtags on thigh gap pictures, you may find things relating to eating disorders. There are lots of workouts that also target this “thigh gap.”

thighgapworkout

Why It’s A Problem

Having a thigh gap could be an unrealistic goal…something many girls may never achieve. Why? Because part of it depends on your hips. If you have wider hips, you may naturally have a thigh gap. If you have narrow hips, you probably don’t and won’t – no matter how many exercises you do. Here’s a good visual (and post explaining the thigh gap) I found on Tumblr:

thigh gap

Girls are chasing something that they may never achieve, and may be doing unhealthy things in order to get the thigh gap (like eating less).

Now, I’m not saying that people with thigh gaps are unhealthy. I’m saying that we shouldn’t be so focused on one body part, no matter what it is.

Social Media & Its Role

While social media certainly helps promote thigh gaps and helps girls spread these “thigh gap workouts” and “thinspo,” social media platforms are also doing a good job of letting users know that searching for these key terms isn’t necessarily healthy. Cassey from Blogilates reminded me of this (as I mentioned in the first paragraph). I knew Tumblr had a pop-up message, but wanted to explore other pages as well.

For example, when I searched “thigh gap” on Tumblr, this was the message I got:

thigh gap warning

I think it’s a great message, and helps to promote healthy goals, as well as possibly help those who need it.

Here’s a message from Pinterest:

pinterestthighgap

If you can’t read that it says, ” Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Cassey mentioned that no posts came up on Instagram for “thigh gap” and I searched as well, and it comes up as blank. However, if you search #skinny, a similar text pop-up as the Pinterest and Tumblr ones comes up.

Nothing yet for Twitter.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s thigh gaps, flat stomachs, “toned” arms, etc. I always feel disheartened when someone is so focused on one part of their body. Sure, I want to lose some belly flab, but I know that there are healthy ways to go about it, and also know that it’s possible I may never have a visible six-pack. As I mentioned, it’s a problem when something like this is obsessed over, and the sole goal of eating “healthy” and working out.

Like I said, I’m not bashing anyone with a thigh gap. We shouldn’t focus on whether or not we have one…but why not shift the focus to how strong our legs are? Girls should strive to make their legs stronger, whether it’s through running, lifting, CrossFit, etc.

I’m glad social media platforms are also standing up and trying to help those who may need it. It’s a step in the right direction.

What do you think about the thigh gap? Have you heard of it before?

Time to be positive: Leave a comment with your favorite body part and why you love it!

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6 Responses to “The Thigh Gap”

  1. Ice_Badger March 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    I have heard of the thigh gap…I used to have one, back in the olden days when it didn’t have a name. I was convinced I was fat, and my friend pointed to a photo of me and said…”normal people have legs that touch at the top!” Then again, I was 16, obsessed with losing weight and weighed 7.5 stone (105lbs) and borderline anorexic.
    I don’t have one any more, and I don’t particularly want one. The only advantage I can see is you probably wear through less crotches in your trousers…

    as for my favourite body part…I am going with shoulders, they are square and strong 🙂

    • reach-yourpeak March 10, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      Yeah you’re right, not having thighs touch would mean less chafing for me in the summer when I’m running 😉 But I’m ok with it!

      And I love your comment about your shoulders! I am currently working on my shoulder strength because mine are actually pretty weak. I want strong shoulders so I can do some unassisted pull-ups!

      • Ice_Badger March 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

        mine are getting there, I am working on pull ups, I could do them if I chopped my legs off…but that seems extreme…I have a new pull up bar at home so I am practicing with my feet on chair straight out in front of me…

      • reach-yourpeak March 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

        That’s actually a good idea and one I hadn’t thought of! I have a pullup bar at home but never use it because I don’t have the bands to assist me. I will have to try this!

  2. Stephanie March 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Thanks for posting this! My husband works in a middle school and I can only imagine the poor girls who think they need this. As someone who suffered from anorexia nearly fifteen years ago, all I can say is that I’m grateful social media wasn’t around yet. I can’t even imagine how it affects people now suffering from an eating disorder. I don’t care whether I have thigh gap or not. In fact, I’d prefer not to as I have very muscular legs. Just as long as they don’t rub together too much in the summer (chafing…yuck!). I had that issue when I weighed a bit more and now I don’t, but they still certainly touch!

    In regards to the post, my favorite body part is my legs! I am blessed to have naturally muscular legs and I have never been bothered by the fact that they aren’t long, slim dancer legs. They make me feel powerful, like great roots to hold up a tree. 🙂 I’ve also recently focued more on my glutes for injury recovery and I have to say that it’s looking better and better every day. Wasn’t born with it that way, but I’ve worked hard to get it to look that way.

    • reach-yourpeak March 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

      I agree with a lot of things you mentioned…1) that I’m grateful social media wasn’t around when I was a pre-teen or teen…I can’t even imagine. Not only with this, but the constant posting for self-approval, bullying,etc. 2) I also love my legs! I used to have a flat butt but have been doing squats consistently for years and now love my butt (as well as it’s strength!). I agree that in teh summer thighs touching and get gross lol. It especially sucks during marathon training! Bring on the BodyGlide lol

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